CNN said on Thursday that there is “absolutely no truth” to claims made by a teenage survivor of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that the cable network gave him a “scripted” question to ask during a Wednesday night town hall event about gun legislation.
Colton Haab, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior who helped shield students from gunfire, said the cable news channel gave him a “scripted” question for the Wednesday night town hall.
“CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions, and it ended up being all scripted,” Haab said in an interview with WPLG-TV. “… I don’t think that it’s going to get anything accomplished, it’s not going to ask the true questions that all the parents and teachers and students have.”
Haab said he had composed questions about school safety, and proposed that military veterans could serve as armed security guards in schools.
“I expected to be able to ask my questions and give my opinion on my questions,” Haab said in the interview.
Haab ultimately did not attend the town hall to ask his questions.
In a statement, CNN pushed back against Haab’s claim that they scripted a question for him to ask. “There is absolutely no truth to this,” CNN said in a statement Thursday morning. “CNN did not provide or script questions for anyone in last night’s town hall, nor have we ever.”
The network said that Haab was invited to participate in the town hall, which aired at 9 p.m. Wednesday, but that Haab did not participate because of the wishes of his father.
“Colton’s father withdrew his name from participation before the forum began, which we regretted but respected,” the statement read. “We welcome Colton to join us on CNN today to discuss his views on school safety.”
CNN’s Wednesday night town hall was attended by other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, as well as Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
The town hall resulted in a media firestorm, as parents and students grilled officials on what they would do to prevent future school shootings and how they would protect children.